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Mexican riot police detain journalists at demonstrations over 43 missing students

Riot police grab a demonstrator during a protest over the 43 missing Ayotzinapa students, near the airport in Mexico City
Riot police grab a demonstrator during a protest over the 43 missing Ayotzinapa students, near the airport in Mexico City

REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

This is a translation of an article originally published on articulo19.org on 20 November 2014.

Mexico City riot police attacked eighteen journalists and human rights defenders who were covering a protest at the Mexico City International Airport, during a day of demonstrations in the capital on Thursday 20 November. Protesters were calling for justice for the 43 missing student teachers from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero.

The #RompeElMiedo (“Break the Fear”) network, made up of media outlets and human rights groups, documented the following incidents at the airport:

- Riot police physically attacked Marlen Mondragón, a media worker with Agencia Subversiones, when one officer used excessive force to try to detain her. She was also photographed by police and by people in plain clothes.

- Six media workers, from Somos El Medio, Regeneración Radio, Política Media and Contralínea magazine, were illegally detentained for an hour by riot police.

- Eleven people with the Colectivo Humanitario Marabunta were corralled by police for an hour, and were physically and verbally assaulted by riot police.

- ARTICLE 19 knows of other incidents involving journalists that took place during a rally at the Zócalo, but they are still documenting those cases.

As well, ARTICLE 19 has been told about many protestors who were detained during a confrontation between riot police and dozens of people at the airport. However, by about 12:00, capital district authorities had not been informed of the exact number of people detained. From 1 December 2012 to the present, research by ARTICLE 19 has found that the capital is the most dangerous city in the country for journalists, especially those who report on demonstrations. The organization has recorded numerous cases of arbitrary detentions of journalists and people who participate in peaceful protests, who were falsely accused of acts of violence.

For ARTICLE 19 the violence used by the Mexico City police against protesters and people documenting demonstrations is a violation of human rights and proof that the police force lacks the necessary measures to protect people involved in social protest.

“We condemn violence against journalists, protesters and police, because all attacks in all forms impede the exercise of the right to free expression,” said ARTICLE 19 Mexico and Central America Director Darío Ramírez.

ARTICLE 19 calls on authorities in Mexico City to train their police force to avoid further attacks on media workers and human rights defenders, to abide by the law, ensure due process for people who are detained, and respect, at all times, the human rights of the people who are protesting and covering the protests.

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